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SERVICE PUBLIC
 
Séminaire théorique "Service public et mondialisation"


Day of synthesis of the work of the seminar Services of General Interest and Globalisation
Saturday, March 11th 2000

Europe, the future of Public Services?   Public Services, the future of Europe?


AN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ON COLLECTIVE EUROPEAN SERVICES

Ph. FRÉMAUX (Alternatives économiques) - I have the good fortune to chair this first session.  François Fourquet will now address us for the next fifteen minutes

François FOURQUET (Université Paris 8) - Good morning to you all. I have been asked to place our  discussions in their historical context. The difficulty is in reducing this to a quarter of an hour. We have had very lively debates on the question raised by our friends of Réseaux Services Publics on the possible arguments we can present against the 'neo-liberal' doctrine or ideology which has prevailed for the last twenty years, longer in fact within European circles. Frederich Hayek has been a landmark for me. I started reading him and I can say he is a long way from the dry and dogmatic doctrinaire he is usually portrayed to be

1. Public services as the result of a 'spontaneous order' 
When you approach the fundamentals, you realise (in a long term perspective, of course) that the key concept is not specific to market forces. If we look at the way public services have developed  throughout Europe's turbulent history (going back at least to the ruins of the Roman empire between 500 and 1000AD), you realise that the future of public services is obviously bound to that of the concept of State in general but also to the slow, conflict ridden development of present day Europe. That is a unified Christian faith, and the political division of Europe.  From the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, to Charles Quint, Napoléon or Hitler, all have tried to unify Europe politically. All these attempts have failed  and resulted in the political fragmentation of Europe, but a common cultural context remained. These ideas are confirmed or inspired by Toynbee for whom this alternation between cultural unity and political fragmentation is one of the key themes of his history of civilisations. I also found them in the works of a contemporary sociologist, Jean Baechler who has published an essay on the history of capitalism. Society is truly the random result (and here Hayek is right) of a huge variety of collective actions by individuals. Here random means that this is not the result of a planned, rational act. Men always want something but its outcome eludes them. The result is what Hayek calls 'spontaneous order'; it makes the circulation of information possible and the collective creation of information (the market) much more abundant than could be produced by any single human brain. I found this idea in Turgot's works when I studied the progression of economics in history. If society is spontaneous order as a whole (and not only public services or the order of the market, public services themselves are part of and the result of spontaneous social order in the same way as the market. Why would the market only be described as spontaneous order. There is no reason for that, it is mere postulate and could never be demonstrated. 

2. Is there such a thing as a European society? 
This question is related to the previous one. Since public services are also the result of  unplanned spontaneous order, if their only value is as an element of a society, is there such a thing as a European society? There is no problem about public services at national level, only at European level. I question the existence of a European society, and during our discussions this question was constantly debated. Other arguments point out to the fact that this society is not particularly substantial at the moment, but what does the future hold? The debate is open.
To justify the argument that there is no such thing as a European society or that it is very weak. I would argue that, historically, a European society only exists as a European civilisation encompassing and unifying nation States which are completely fragmented and conflict-ridden, not forgetting the essential fact that European society existed before nation States. Europe as a cultural, homogeneous whole existed before it fragmented into rival, conflict- ridden nation States. This fragmentation goes back to the failure of the pope and the Holy Roman Empire to unify Europe around 1200-1300. Nation States were constituted but there still remained a Christian civilisation: the latinate western Christian world. It has lost its meaning now and this has been so since the United States appeared on the world stage. Since the beginning of the 19th century, since England gave birth to the United States in every way (cultural, linguistic and technical) and since the latter took over power after the first world war, a European civilisation has ceased to exist. There remains now a western civilisation, of which the United States are de facto leaders with Great Britain as its second or its assistant in Europe. I met an American who told me he had forgotten that England was in Europe. But if we cannot construct Europe without the English, we cannot do it with them. This hypothesis is strongly contested but it is a valid question. From its beginning, Great Britain has constantly tried, either to sabotage the European project with EFTA, or to enter the Union and slow down European unification as much as possible. Why? The bond with the US is stronger than everything else. England, with exceptions, is not strongly attracted to the construction of a truly European society. Europeanisation comes second to globalisation. When national societies lose momentum, people who support them are more interested in the construction of a global rather than a European society, even with reservations. European public services only make sense if people feel that they belong to a European society. Institutions will follow. Popular feeling precedes the creation of institutions.

3. If they are to exist, European public services will themselves be the result of a kind of spontaneous order. If they exist (and I cannot allow myself to pronounce on this a priori because the Anglo-Saxon world is in the ascendant compared with the construction of Europe), they will be the result of a spontaneous order, of a conflict of opinions and interests and of social conflicts which should be arbitrated through a democratic debate. This is the norm. What is democracy? It is pacification at the cost of the institutionalisation of conflicts. No one knows in advance the result of these contests. 
Democracy is not merely a political institution, but also an institution for knowledge. I am quoting Hayek here who says that the market is an institution for information and knowledge. Problems which would otherwise be ignored emerge thanks to democracy. Ecology is a wonderful example of this. People were not aware of the environment  in the sixties, it started in the seventies specifically at the heart of capitalism, within a system which allows for the emergence of new problems, obviously involving conflict. When Franco died and parliamentary democracy appeared, we discovered the appalling consequences of dictatorship on the environment. Spain took years to put ecology into practice. You have all heard of the story of the Spanish adulterated olive oil. When Gorbatchev came to power people became aware of the system's total contempt for the environment. Democracy is also a 'demoscopy', it acts as the eyes of the people rather than being an institution of the people.
 

Ph. FRÉMAUX - Thank you. I share your opinion on the first and third points, but am unsure about the second one. We may agree with your conclusions, we can argue about  their basis with regard to the making of Europe and the way you treat the English. We can also consider that the United States are an extension of Europe and that they dominate through cultural products originating mainly from our continent. Europe's problem consists in the way capitalism organises itself on a basis which is not so much international as transatlantic (for the movement of trade, capital and patents). Asia remains in a fairly different situation in relation to this. The French vision of a fortress is at fault. As soon as Leon Britan talks  of an agreement on transatlantic free-exchange people express outrage, when in fact a lot of our external trade is with the United States. The idea of a framework is not bad. What defines Europe? You mentioned Christianity several times but not the way it came into conflict with modernity from the Renaissance onwards. As for the relationship between Europe and the rest of the world, what makes us special is the strength of the universal approach. There is an obvious tension between what defines us as a closed universe and the fact that fragmentation is an obvious tendency, since our approach must be valid for all, for better or for worse. There is enough here for countless discussions for the rest of the session. I now give the floor to Katherine Varin. 

Katherine VARIN (Réseaux Services Publics) - This is the first session of this conference and I find myself wondering "what are we talking about?"
The first thing which strikes me is the quantity of expressions used in this conference: we are talking of services of general interest, of globalization, of public services (and of Europe), and of collective services within a historical context (it is the theme of this session). We have forgotten to mention services of general economic interest and universal service, some more expressions which have recently appeared in 'Brusselsspeak'.
Whatever, I have to say that during our sessions, we have never spent much time (nor agreed on) defining these expressions.

1. The origin of public services
What strikes me first, is that from the beginning, in every human group,  in a constitutive, inherent manner, one or more collective services are created. It is linked to communal life. In Les théories du pouvoir Jacqueline Russ talks about " a vital need for organisation". 
Public services are a datable concept. As a concept public services can be situated in history. In France, it is formalised as a concept at the end of the 19th century. It follows a long tradition of services (State, economic, social, socio-economic services). It  borrows from social thinkers and  movements and their demands for human rights. It also expresses the self-interest of the intelligentsia and its fear of social movements (cf. the Fabian Society in Great Britain and Duguit in France).
In the countries of western Europe public services reached a kind of zenith between 1945 and the seventies, during what the French called "the Thirty Glorious Years". This was also the time when two models of society (or civilisation?) were at war: Soviet vs. American (the 'Cold War').
It is also the time of the creation of the European Community, a time when its founders expressed the conviction that if western countries wanted to survive, they were 'condemned to peace'.
Can we really talk of peace  in the context of the European construction?
Is there not a form of violence which is the extension of previous wars? Our discussions have borrowed from a rather belligerent vocabulary. We talked of real or symbolic violence: -liberalism is the "weapon" of the dominant nation (this being the United States today), - the European construction process uses liberalism to "break" local oppositions, to deregulate public services.
I will add that this process also includes a deconstruction/reconstruction of the vocabulary: Europe talks about services of general interest, of general economic interest, of universal service, rather than of public service.

2. Which relevant framework for our argument: the world or Europe?
Two opinions have emerged:
- one in which the global dimension prevails. "Globalisation is faster than the European construction, it even goes against it"; this is what we heard during our sessions. This is F. Fourquet's opinion.
- the other considers that there is a true European 'specificity' and that history and  historians prove it, in spite of the huge differences between languages and concepts (the right to ownership is one example of this). This is not the end of the debate and in any case it could not be.
Yet, this idea of a historical European specificity based on public utilities has convinced the European Commission that these services are "at the heart of Europe" and brought about  in 1996 a communication entitled Services of General Interest in Europe  from which I reproduce a few extracts:
Services of general interest "form part of the cultural identity of every day life in all European countries […]  These shared values translate into different ways of organising general interest services […]. Although the same sort of services are provided […] these very different circumstances a challenge for European economic integration. But rather than being an obstacle, they provide a range of possibilities that may be drawn on"…
I will add that globalisation is common to all periods of history: the Roman, Spanish and British empires come to mind in the western world. Empires are made and unmade. Every country absorbs the empire's heritage into its own culture and creates a new unique identity: the United States and India for example,…
Globalisation is not a passive process, actions are not one way only, this is obvious in relationships between individuals. This is also what A.-M. Thiesse demonstrates throughout La création des identités nationales (The creation of national identities): national patterns are inspired by what others do and by imitations of their practices

3. The future of Europe and of public service
I personally consider that Europe may well not come out as a loser and to answer the questions asked by the subtitle?? of the conference (Europe, the future of public service? public service, the future of Europe?), I will point out that:
- Europe is the way towards the future of public services. If they must have a future, it rests at European level;
-at the same time public services can be an element of a European identity and can contribute to the construction of a European territory;
- in order to survive, public services must evolve and adapt to new needs, new technologies.

I will quote A.-M. Thiesse again: "the supranational European entity is becoming a legal, economic, financial, police and monetary State: it is not a space with which one can identify. It lacks the whole of the symbolic heritage through which nations have been able to offer individuals a collective interest, a brotherhood, protection". I would add that public utilities are capable of offering this symbolic heritage to Europe.
To be a winner, Europe must also be a player:
. public utilities must  also face and question new challenges:
  - evaluation,
  - modernisation, 
  - the citizen and its new rights,
  - the user who becomes a subject and expresses needs and desires,
. civil society must rally behind public utilities through organisations more or less formal, such as, for example, the European Liaison Committee on Services of General Interest (CELSIG)
. and from our debates has emerged the need to amplify some concepts and their  inter-relationships, such as: 
- democracy, freedom, individualism, collective responsibility, the market, basic rights, solidarity,
-  their relationships with public utilities.

These raise the question of what kind of society we want to live in.

F. FOURQUET - A point of clarification on the way England is presented  - I request permission from the Chair to add some comments: my presentation may seem to present the English as troublemakers but this is not what I think. England has an international dimension which France and Europe do not have to the same degree. The City is a banking centre which processes financial transactions for American interests, but this is also because England has always had a world wide outlook. It does not imply contempt in relation to the continent. England exemplifies the fact that globalisation may  prevail over Europeanisation

Jean MEDAM - Why should we oppose globalisation and/or Europeanisation? -Could we not rather consider, in order to reconcile both sides of the argument, that Europe should perceive globalisation through Europe? To England, globalisation and ideology are not incompatible. We do not have separate globalist and individualist camps, but a way Europeans can absorb globalisation. Economies can be said to create information in the same way as ideologies can be said to create a market or an economy. A view of globalisation creates a material economy. I'd like to remind you of the Vodafone/Manesmann case. It is very important in so much as it demonstrates the power of English capitalism. Vodafone's victory on Manesmann was consequent on  the present reorganisation of the German economy and we may come back to these consequences.

Anne QUERRIEN - Our debates lack an urban dimension - Revue des annales de la recherche urbaine (Review of the annals on urban research) - What is lacking in both interventions is the urban civilisation, the European cities, the world cities and the cities as worlds. The World Bank invited me to New York three weeks ago to a meeting with the main American and international banks in order to try to convince the representatives of the world's big cities to be marked(as companies are marked) for their profitability, thus becoming international investment locations for main banks. A financial battle started during the meeting of the United Nations in Istanbul in 1995. International bankers want to select suitable cities irrespective of their national status and turn them into places for economic investment, particularly in public services. The aim is to issue loans on international markets in order to improve life in those cities: St Petersburg, Hanoi, Mexico City…
Democracy first developed in Athens, a city and not an empire. In a central space, later called a public space, heads of families would gather to discuss how to share equally the spoils of their wars. It was a democratic place for discussion about redistribution. The idea of a res publica comes from these medieval civilisations. It is not based on the charitable concept which is that of our present public services, with their universal service for the poor and market services for the others. Europe's urban density is also its trump card. Something is happening in urban centres which is absent from our debates. When we talk of railways or aeroplanes for example, we are talking about inter-urban links.

P. BAUBY - On the three sources and the three components of  public service  - Our debates underline three main questions: spontaneous order, the dialectic between the spontaneous and the planned, the link between western and European civilisations. It leads me to expand on what François was saying in his introduction. The threefold origins of public services are: Christianity, local movements with their urban links and what links western and European civilisations, i.e. industrialisation and the working class movement. The combination of these three elements - and not merely their common origin, i.e. Christian values -  produced at the end of the 19th century the concept of  public services. The three components also represent the right by individuals to access to specific goods and services. They represent what is  common to the local, national or regional communities and a way to adopt deliberate policies. When you link sources and components, an original approach emerges which is somewhat lacking in the United States. Thus, Europe is a relevant step towards becoming an actor in the process of globalisation. There is a whole variety of modes of globalisation in which Europe can play an active part. 

J.-C. BOUAL - Is there such a thing as a European society? - The question raised by François emerged at the end of our two years of research. If there is no specific society at European level, should we build one? What political motivation do we have within the European Union (enlarged tomorrow) to build a true European society with interactions between countries, since people visualise this European society differently in the United Kingdom, France or Germany? Thus this first question is political.
I expected Anne's reactions on urban problems. There is indeed a structuring of the European space vis a vis that of the USA. It has important consequences for cultural behaviour and for the ways the social and economic lives of different countries are ordered. During the discussions of the last few years between the Commission and its social (economic and political) partners on public services in relation to Europe, an essential question emerged: is there a European civilisation and do public services (i.e. intervention modes by public power(s), social and territorial solidarity, and solidarity between generations), exist within Europe?  Civil society has succeeded in convincing institutions that this is the case and that the SGI are part and parcel of European civilisation. Our work on public services and Europe led us to work on the European civil society. This is not random and the link is essential. In spite of its contradictions and its fragility, European civil society is being built. I think that in a way (albeit with a lot of contradictions) the English may be nearer to continental Europeans that they are to the United States. It does not detract from globalisation. Faced with other global dimensions, do we want to play a part? The perspectives of France or England in relation to the USA or China are not comparable. 

R. FARNETTI - We need to go beyond the opposition between Anglo-Saxon capitalism and social economy capitalism - I specialise in the British economy. We have made a very liberal use of  the terms used by Michel Albert in Capitalisme contre capitalisme (Capitalism vs. capitalism); these are indeed convenient from an educational point of view, with, on one side anglo-saxon capitalism represented by Great Britain and the USA (mainly caring about returns for its shareholders), and on the other, a social market  capitalism  represented by Japan and Germany. We need to go beyond this limited framework. I prefer to use a framework developed by Will Hutton, one of Tony Blair's advisers, who distinguishes four main types of capitalism. Though he puts Anglo-Saxon, American and British capitalism in the same basket, he also underlines basic differences between American and British capitalism. I will be fairly provocative on the matters of the City and that of Vodafone/Manesman. Vodafone was unknown 4 or 5 years ago. It experienced exponential growth on the Stock Exchange and was able to grab one of the flagships of the German mechanical engineering industries (Manesman). What is British about Vodafone? Not a lot. It was created through investment funds from the four corners of the world. The City is an offshore island, i.e. an island drifting somewhere in the south East of Great Britain where a number of American, Japanese or German banks have dropped anchor. 

The reason for the English attitude with regard to the European construction - We can explain the English attitude to Europe accordingly. They do not want to be confined to the space we call the European construction because this area is not sufficiently large as far as possible profits are concerned. British and American capitalists deal in investments but the United State have remnants of an industry. Industries have almost disappeared in Great Britain except in some specialised sectors; it is also the second most profitable domain for pension funds (about 20%) after Holland (about 30/40%), whereas Michel Aglietta in Le Capitalisme patrimonial (Patrimonial capitalism) mentioned an obligatory  threshold of about 15%. If this trend was replicated in the United States, they would also lose their industrial output. This adviser of Tony Blair's is also one of his fiercest critics. He knows the Stock Exchange very well and was once a broker there

Ph. FRÉMAUX - On European civil society - The destruction of any possibility of incorporation and association means that between the market and the State there is no one. Public services are a means to reconstitute social links and embodying collective values. Other countries have been able to develop intermediate modes of organisation, and even if the market disrupts our French organisational systems, do we not have here the potential rediscovery of intermediate systems? I am always puzzled when I hear civil society invoked in the name of the defence of public services. I search for it because it is not merely composed by the discourse of those who invoke it (in the way the proletariat expresses itself through the Party's avant-garde), it also implies an organisation (associations and bodies to give it life). In the defence of public services, I see clearly what motivation public service unions may have in opposing specific modernisation initiatives, or the motivation of the management of these companies in relation to their own strategic projects (with their inherent ambivalence); but what seems to me lacking is the mobilisation of users in spite of the efforts of the good people I see in this room. 

Ph. BRACHET - The recognition of the SGI (services of general interest) in Europe will mainly be a matter of civilisation, of the organisation of Europe as a dialogue between traditions and the history of its different components. Neither the market which tends to water down public service activities, nor technical requirements which are very powerful, will arrive at the completion of their organisation. What is at stake at European level is the attitude of politicians; here we can see how States are partly paralysed by lack of democracy and transparency, as they are in different ways at their national levels. Thus, how can we initiate a critical and cultural debate on the organisation of SGI in spite of all these handicaps? Europe must have a greater awareness of the need for an organisation of  services in the general interest and this must be one of the main instruments of organisation of Europe as a specific democracy. This should be one of our  main lines of analysis and initiative in the months and years to come. 

G. MULLIEZ - Social conflict and inequalities - I am a trade-unionist for Sud-PTT and supervisor at La Poste (the Post Office). At the end of the second world war social conflicts played an important part in the creation of public services in France. For a long time the French working class movement demanded two things: equal public services for all and staff protection, demands which are in the balance now through partial privatisation. Industrial conflict is curbed through the limitation and questioning of statutes. It cannot express itself as it used to. One of the aims of some of these processes of privatisation is to call into question workers' rights in order to reduce the possibility of industrial conflict, though this process is not yet far gone within public services. The social movement of 1995 is that of public services. It has raised, not always clearly and specifically, the question of public services in France and possibly in Europe. The weakening of the public sector and of public services is a factor in social inequality and poverty. Some social categories cannot access  services  because users have been replaced by customers. Local inequalities become more and more obvious: the post offices of some suburbs are not as well equipped as those of Paris.

M. CAVOURIARIS - A historical perspective - We should look at the conditions in Europe from a historical viewpoint in terms of the vocabulary  used as well as concepts and policies elaborated through different programmes. It all started during the Roman Empire and also since the second world war. Nowadays, for example, we can compare European and American models. Behind the concept of convergence is a political reality. Europe does not consist of a spontaneous order. There exists a political will, a direction taken by various specific groups, which implies the existence of more than one Europe: Europe of cities, of consumers, of regions, of trade-unions. There is a contradiction here, because political convergence should lead to the necessary enlargement of Europe, and this is difficult to realise.
Let's not be fooled. This constant reference to Hayek may lead us to an exaggeration of the market's qualities, in the areas of information, knowledge, etc. Nowadays the information and technology  revolution may give us greater access to knowledge than the market can ever do

On European civil society - We will look into existing programmes at the level of civil society. A civil society which identifies itself through democracy, peace and knowledge through participation, is a very good thing. Mme Varin raised the question of the nature of civil society. The movements of Europeans within the territories of Member-States almost ceased at the time of the creation of the European Union, and I am not saying that they existed previously to a huge extent. What are the movements of populations within Europe? Let us take other examples to assess them. What translations of English or German books do we have in France?  Civil society is not emerging because its fundamental principles do not exist at the level of democracy, of peace (which died in Kosovo) and at the level of participation. Instances of inequality constantly appear and prevent its creation. 
Civil society does not equal basic rights. European reaction in relation to the situation in Austria and in the Balkans is very interesting. Some things are also happening at the university. The occupation of a lecture theatre by illegal immigrants raises a basic right: the right to be in the country where you are studying. This idea should be put forward at European level even if we disagree with the methods used by these movements. They could contribute to the creation of civil society within Europe

M. HEINTZ -  National French Railways(SNCF) - A number of interventions seem to show a certain amount of confusion between public service agencies and public services themselves. Europe is  in a process of evolution at the level of public services: public service structures tend to be replaced by public service missions. Thinking on the nature of public services is evolving. This is not new and a lot of ambiguity has surrounded this concept. I will take the railways as an example. They appeared around 1840 in the form of private companies. The State had to be involved because investments were so huge that bankers could not raise them alone. People's land also had to be expropriated along the planned routes. As early as 1848, railway workers wanted to nationalise the railways because of  financial scandals (a strong tendency by capitalism to grab money which these workers considered as public property). The SNCF (French Railways) appeared in 1937 or 1938 and took over from companies which had all gone bankrupt. At that time, the first C.G.T. (Confédération Générale du Travail/General Confederation of workers) congress had stressed that nationalisation would unite workers and users in the management of  railways, but it resulted in a takeover by the State. The new company appointed boards of directors to manage the bankruptcy  of the private companies. It must be stressed that the democratic dimension of public services is all relative, as in fact there is nothing democratic about them. It's a structure managed by the State. People within them have a particular status This takeover and control by the State were justified: I have not heard anything about this today but you must have mentioned it in your conferences. Strategic and military reasons have also led to the control by the State of a number of activities. We live nowadays in a liberal ideological environment which wants companies functioning  as networks, the end of monopolies and the introduction of competition. In the area of railways Great Britain is an example of this. These are very powerful trends which are difficult to resist but which nevertheless cannot be supported by any example of success.

We may wonder whether reflection on these questions does not rest on notions which may lag behind reality. There is a public service for water in France, but it is not a publicly owned service and is not a public company. The railways provide a number of public services that the State or the policies of successive governments have failed to define with any accuracy. The advantage of ambiguity is that it contains something for everybody. 
 

J. MEDAM - I did not say that Vodafone represents British capital, but on the contrary that what happened with Vodafone shows that something based in the City is now global. Capitalism does not exist in a vacuum and Vodafone would not exist without the development of mobile phones, without an industrial basis. Manesman was split into small pieces. Vodafone took over the mobile phone part of it and wants to sell the rest for cash. . 

Aspects of work as a factor of production - Europe differs from the USA with regard to work mobility. From what I understand, when an American is out of work he moves to another State with his family and this may happen several times in his lifetime. This is not the case to the same extent in Europe. In the publishing world for example, a British editor can have a French manuscript printed in India thanks to information technology. We can imagine that the lesser mobility of the European workforce could be offset by the possibilities offered by information and technology: the Internet does not require the physical movement of workers.

Bertrand de QUATREBARBES (consultant) What is the origin of public services? - Public services combine conflicting  interests. They are one of the instruments of empire or of central powers, and they represent these actively and symbolically at local levels. They also fulfil local needs with regard to the organisation of local life. There are similarities but also conflicts between local  needs and those of central powers. The market can and wants to satisfy local needs; this results in the reduction of local public services and the power of the centre.
Capitalist enterprises have a number of strategies in relation to public services. One of them consists in saying:" As you're not giving me room to work on this, I'll join your system and will be your operator. Up to others to operate in your place". 

Another strategy: " once things go wrong, you're more than happy to let the State repair the damage". This results in take-over by the State (as for the SNCF).
The concept of democracy is mostly absent. The question became much more relevant with the emergence of the working class movement in the 19th century and after the war (equal rights for workers). There was at that point a progressive appropriation  by a wider community of these public service concepts. This is a more recent and more marginal process within the history of public services when, through global strategies, central powers take over from local ones, even if the needs are local. The EDF (Electricité de France) has never really operated democratically. La Poste (French Post Office) functions more and more like a private enterprise with an element of public service in the margin, even though the heads of these companies pronounce regularly on deprived areas.

Differences within public services between missions and operators  - In this context, while taking into account the way public services are managed, particularly in France, any progress will necessitate a separation between the missions of the company and the way it is run. According to what criteria should these missions be defined?

F. FOURQUET - (to Pierre Bauby et J.-C. Boual) Everything is possible in spite of the weight of history - By invoking long term and negative trends and by displaying positivist tendencies, I situate myself slightly outside your points of view. The idea of a European society may already be out of date. You react and it's normal. History sheds light on things, but nothing is impossible. Europe is breached on all sides and globalisation is happening (the dominant trend) your action is part of the spontaneous order currently taking place; in the same way liberal elements want to stop the creation of public services at European level. Everything is still possible. 

On the three sources of public services and the questions they raise - I agree with Pierre Bauby (but will want to discuss this) on the three sources. To me, your first source (public services and the State) should be entitled specifically "public services are an appendage of the State". The nation State is in crisis, thus the question raised here is that of a European State. I am less convinced about local life (your second source) even though  municipal socialism? exists. I totally agree on the third point about the importance of the working class movement. On the whole, the latter is going through a crisis which is also due to globalisation and the question which arises is that of a working class movement at European level. There are no public services without a true social movement.


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